Trump suggests he could be a three-term president at NRA convention, raising alarm

Gun Rights

Former president Donald Trump on Saturday floated the prospect of becoming a three-term president if he is elected in November, raising alarm among political observers.

Speaking before a crowd of gun rights supporters at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association in Dallas, the presumptive Republican nominee harangued his opponents on the campaign trail, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and President Biden, and touted his backing of conservative values, namely his pledge to defend the Second Amendment.

While Trump’s speech also drew attention for a prolonged pause when the teleprompter malfunctioned and for the playing of music associated with the far-right conspiracy theory movement QAnon, his suggestion to the audience that he could serve more than two terms in the White House renewed concerns that Trump will not obey the Constitution.

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“You know, FDR 16 years, almost 16 years, he was four-term. I don’t know, are we going to be considered three-term or two-term? You tell me,” he said. “Are we three-term or two-term if we win?”

Some in the crowd could be heard shouting “three” in response, according to a clip of the speech. During the same speech, Trump also spoke of appointing young judges so that they can sit on the bench for decades.

The 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution bars individuals from being elected president more than twice.

In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt broke longstanding precedent and won a third term, and he was reelected to a fourth term in 1944. But his long tenure sparked a push for term limits, and in 1947, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment, according to the National Constitution Center. It was ratified in 1951.

Efforts to repeal the amendment since then have repeatedly failed.

Trump has made similar comments about extending his tenure in office before, including on social media in 2019 and during a speech he delivered at a rally in Wisconsin in 2020, CNN reported.

“We are going to win four more years,” Trump said at the time. “And then after that, we’ll go for another four years because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years.”

At another rally in Pennsylvania in 2019, he joked about serving as many as five terms.

More recently, Trump, who faces a number of legal challenges and is in the final stretch of his hush-money trial in New York, seemed to push back against the idea of violating the Constitution.

In September, when asked by NBC’s Kristin Welker on “Meet the Press,” Trump responded “no” when pressed if there was any scenario in which he would pursue a third term.

During an interview with Time Magazine in April, Trump was asked if he would “definitely retire after a second term” or if he would “consider challenging the 22nd Amendment.”

Trump delivered a rambling answer about being “treated very unfairly” during the 2020 presidential election that he lost to President Biden before responding, “But no, I’m going to serve one term, I’m gonna do a great job. … And then I’m gonna leave.”

“I wouldn’t be in favor of a challenge,” to the 22nd Amendment. “Not for me. I wouldn’t be in favor of it at all. I intend to serve four years and do a great job. And I want to bring our country back,” Trump said.

Still, his remarks at the NRA convention recalled Trump’s previous comment that he won’t be a dictator if he wins reelection, “other than [on] day one” during a televised town hall in a conversation with Fox News host Sean Hannity last year.

The Biden campaign posted a clip of his speech on X, formerly Twitter, with the comment, “Trump says he wants to violate the Constitution by running for a third term.”

“It’s hard to tell if Trump is confused or just speaking out his dictatorial dreams,” one person said.

“The idea of terms will be eliminated if he wins. It will be a dictatorship,” added another.


Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her @shannonlarson98.

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